Thursday, 22 March 2018

The Hockey Show - Episode 287

The Hockey Show, Canada's only campus-produced radio show that strictly talks hockey, is back with a special show! Normally, we try to book guests who have amazing stories or careers that have taken those players down interesting paths, but tonight is something completely different. Beans and I often talk about the people behind the scenes for these amazing athletes, but tonight we're going to speak to two women who literally raised gold medalists. At the time, they probably didn't know they'd be gold medalists at some point in their lives, but they can now say their daughters are gold medal-winning hockey players!

Tonight, Beans and I are honoured, humbled, privileged, and proud to welcome into the studio Carla Sharman and Karen Taraschuk, the mothers of Alanna Sharman and Lauren Taraschuk! Alanna and Lauren won the U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey gold medal in London, Ontario last week, and we got to meet Carla and Karen in London where they were cheering their daughters on to victory! These two ladies are exceptional people, and we're excited to speak with them about Alanna and Lauren as little hockey tykes, the costs and sacrifices that go into raising elite hockey players, and just how proud they are of their daughters. We'll hear about a great initiative from Carla during the show, and we may even have a surprise for them as well! Tune in tonight as we meet Carla Sharman and Karen Taraschuk and get their perspectives on the tournament in London where their daughters were crowned best in the nation!

I wanna listen to this, you exclaim! We hear you and, for you to hear us, we suggest that you download the UMFM app on your phone or tablet. It's the easiest and most convenient way to listen to any of UMFM's great shows any time of the day, so go get it! Just follow this link on your iDevice or this link for your Android device and get the UMFM app! It's never been easier to tune into The Hockey Show or UMFM! Download the UMFM app today, and don't miss any of our great programming or shows! Of course, you can do the radio thing at 101.5 on the FM dial and you can always listen online via the UMFM website!

If you prefer social media, we try to remain up-to-speed there as well! Email all show questions and comments to! Tweet me anytime with questions you may have by hitting me up at @TeebzHBIC on Twitter. You can also post some stuff to Facebook if you use the "Like" feature, and I always have crazy stuff posted there that doesn't make it to the blog or show.

Tonight, Teebz and Beans will introduce you to Carla Sharman and Karen Taraschuk as we talk to the hockey moms about their daughters, life as hockey moms, the stresses and successes they've experienced and more on The Hockey Show found only on 101.5 UMFM, on the UMFM app, on the web stream!

PODCAST: March 22, 2018: Episode 287

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Pirates Move On

I'm a wee bit behind on this thanks to my involvement at the U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey Championship, but let's get caught up on another team that I follow thanks to friendship. The Danish Metal Ligaen is currently into its playoffs, and the Aalborg Pirates are in those playoffs as the second-seeded team in the Metal Ligaen after finishing with 95 points. They started those playoffs on March 9 against the Frederikshavn White Hawks in their best-of-seven series. Frederikshavn was the fifth-seeded team on the strength of an 84-point season, so this series looked like it might be fun!

Game One went on March 9 at Cool East Arena in Aalborg, Denmark. Aalborg's Julian Jakobsen opened the scoring at 17:10, and the one-goal lead would hold until 6:09 of the third period when Frederikshavn's Kristian Jensen found twine behind Tadeas Galansky to make it 1-1. Aalborg, however, would not be denied on this night as Peter Quenneville netted the game-winning goal at 14:06 with a shot that got past Thomas Lillie, and the Pirates would secure the 2-1 victory to take a 1-0 series lead.

Game Two moved to Nordjyske Bank Arena on March 11 as Frederikshavn played host to Aalborg. The home side would hit the scoreboard first as Cameron Spiro put the White Hawks up 1-0 just 5:09 into this game when he beat Tadeas Galansky. It would take until late in the second period, but Aalborg would get that one back when Christopher Frederiksen found the back of the net on the power-play at 18:55 to make it 1-1. Just 26 seconds later, Olivier Hinse beat Thomas Lillie to put the Pirates up 2-1 as they took the lead into the second intermission after outshooting the White Hawks 16-2 in the frame!

The Pirates would extend the lead at 14:26 of the third period when Pierre-Olivier Morin found space past Lillie to make it 3-1. The White Hawks would pressure the Pirates, and Mark Hurtubise would cut the deficit to one goal when he scored at 17:43. Even with Lillie on the bench for the final minute, the Pirates withstood the attack as the captured victory in Game Two by a 3-2 score to take a 2-0 series lead!

Game Three went back to Aalborg on March 13, and the home team found itself down after the first period thanks to Frederikshavn's Nick Olesen scored an unassisted goal at 13:54 past Tadeas Galansky. From the start of the second period, however, it was all Pirates. Kirill Kabanov scored 25 seconds into the middle frame, and Peter Quenneville would add two goals at 9:57 and 19:34 to make it a 3-1 game for the Pirates. They weren't done there, either. Olivier Hinse scored at 14:32 and Christopher Frederiksen closed out the scoring at 15:15 as the Pirates scored five unanswered goals to claim a 5-1 victory and a stranglehold 3-0 lead in the series!

Game Four would head back to Nordjyske Bank Arena on March 15, and this would be a highly entertaining game as Frederikshavn needed to win to stay alive while Aalborg was looking to close out the series. This game would be scoreless until early in the third period when Aalborg finally opened the scoring when Clay Anderson's point shot on the power-play eluded Thomas Lillie at 5:40 to give the Pirates the 1-0 lead. They would double the lead four minutes later when Henry Hardarson checked in with his first goal at 9:27, and it appeared the Pirates were on their way to a sweep.

But hold on there, sports fans. 37 seconds after Hardarson scored, the White Hawks got one back off the stick of Mark Hurtubise to make it a 2-1 game. Henri Heino would tie the game at 16:42 on the power-play when he beat Tadeas Galansky, and things got really out of control when Henrik Eriksson dented twine at 18:54 to give the White Hawks the 3-2 lead with 1:06 remaining in the game!

A late penalty to Hurtubise with 29 seconds left was all the fodder that the Pirates needed. Ten seconds after Hurtubise took a seat in the sin bin, Martin Lefebrve sniped a power-play goal at 19:41, and this game would be knotted up at 3-3 meaning we'd need some free hockey to find a winner! It was off to overtime in Game Four!

It would take 14:59 to determine a winner, but a winner was found. As the image at the top of the article shows, the Pirates would earn the victory off the stick of Martin Lefebrve to win the game 4-3 in extra time and sweep the White Hawks out of the playoffs!

I'll be keeping an eye on the Metal Ligaen playoff situation as head coach Brandon Reid has the Pirates rolling right now. The break between the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds will be good for letting the bumps and bruises heal, but the Pirates will now play for a medal of some colour as they are one of the four remaining teams. With a little bit of luck, we might be talking about a possible gold medal series in the near future!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Monday, 19 March 2018

What Do I Do Now?

It's the day after one of the best days of my life as a broadcaster, and I'm absolutely wiped still thanks to the late night arrival into my fair city and the early morning alarm clock for work. With the high of seeing the University of Manitoba Bisons women's hockey team winning a gold medal starting to wear off, it occurred to me as I sat at work today that I now have a ton of free time on the weekends. There are no additional games until October, and the season is officially over with the gold medal victory. What do I do now?

I get that this happens every season to athletes and people associated with teams once their seasons are over. It's no surprise that some athletes struggle to fill their time productively while others hit the gym, do celebrity and charity work, and represent the team at various events. I've gone through this feeling a number of times myself after competing at high-level sporting events, and you kind of feel numb that the grind is over. That's how I feel right now.

To me, this is a weird feeling. If I were playing, I could see this being a feeling I might have. As a broadcaster, though, I've never expected to feel like there should be more after a season of travel and calling nearly forty university games. It's like an empty feeling that I'm sure will go away, but it feels pretty weird to be wishing my weekends coming up were spent inside a rink.

I do have some stuff I want to get done, and the time on the weekends will be good to accomplish some of those projects. I'm hoping to get one of those projects done this weekend with a little luck, so I guess that feeling will go away shortly. If it seems like I'm a bit of a busy-body, I like to keep my mind occupied when working at home. A couple of these projects will introduce me to new skills as well, so I want to be sure that I'm learning while doing something awesome. I'm all about acquiring new skills and abilities!

In any case, it's an early night for me. I desperately need some sleep as the bags under my eyes are suggesting, so I'll get cracking on this blog again tomorrow!

Until then, keep your sticks on the ice!

Sunday, 18 March 2018

The Rundown - Week 20

If you've been reading the recaps from earlier this week, you already know that Manitoba went into yesterday's semifinal at the 2018 U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey Championship against the Concordia Stingers. I'm not recapping the whole tournament here - that's why I did the work earlier this week - but I will recap the two semifinal games as Canada West had both their teams advance to the medal-round semifinal games. Saskatchewan would play the OUA's Western Mustangs while Manitoba battled the RSEQ's Concordia Stingers, and I'm going to be honest: this recap is coming to you very late, so it's going to be mostly video.

Semi-Final #1

I'm going to be honest in saying that I was pulling for an all-Canada West final with Saskatchewan meeting up with the host Western Mustangs. Call me selfish, but the Huskies and Bisons were looking to bring home hardware just as the Pandas and Thunderbirds did one year earlier. It's a conference thing at this point as the two Canada West teams banded together in the hopes of a rematch from the Canada West Final.

Things were pretty even in the opening period of the semifinal. Western did have a slight edge in possession and shots, but they caught a big break late in the period when Saskatchewan was called for a penalty. Instead, this happened off the draw in the Huskies' zone!

Danielle Nogier made a great play to strip the Western blueliner of the puck, and then she was off to the races where her shot under Carmen Lasis's right arm just got through and across the line for the shorthanded marker and the 1-0 lead. For Nogier, that was her first goal of this season, and it put the Huskies in a good spot heading into the intermission with the lead.

The second period seemed a lot like the first period, but Saskatchewan ran into some penalty trouble early in and midway through the period that cost them. April Clark and Alyssa Chiarello scored at 5:06 and 10:20, respectively, while on separate power-plays, and the Mustangs had a 2-1 lead with 30 minutes to play. Vance was solid throughout the game and Saskatchewan certainly played just as well as Western at five-on-five, but the Mustangs put up a very solid defensive game through the neutral zone to stifle the Saskatchewan speed. Despite having a few opportunities, it seemed more white jerseys were in the Mustangs' zone at all time compared to the Huskies.

The third period played out exactly as the final ten minutes of the second period did - a wall of Mustangs that continually sent the Huskies back into their own zone to regroup. Time and time again, the Mustangs simply closed off passing lanes, got into skating lanes, and angled off Huskies to the outside whenever they tried to cross into the offensive zone. Time became Saskatchewan's biggest enemy, and despite outshooting the Mustangs 9-4 in the final frame, the Huskies could not find the equalizer as they fell to Western by a 2-1 score. Carmen Lasis was excellent between the pipes again for Western as she stopped 24 shots in the win while Vance did all she could in a 24-save performance as well.

As a result, Saskatchewan would move to the bronze medal game while Western advanced to the gold medal game.

Semi-Final #2

Huge props go out to John Gaudes for all his hard work at the U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey Championship. The Bisons' social media guru had his cell phone out and his face buried in a laptop for most of the weekend in pulling together all the highlights for the Manitoba Bisons, so a major kudos to his hard work!

With that being said, the Bisons met the Concordia Stingers with the second berth to the gold medal game on the line. I'm not going to exaggerate anything here, but this was the best game of the tournament. These two teams played hard, left everything on the ice, and still needed extra time to solve their differences. Without further adieu, here are the highlights from the game!
With that, here are the post-game reactions from the Bisons. Jason Pchajek from The Manitoban is on the left, and his work all weekend long was outstanding. Give his articles a read when you're done here for more Bisons coverage!
The Bisons advance to the gold medal game with a 2-1 shootout win over Concordia. Yes, no one likes shootouts. I know this, so you don't have to comment on this portion. If it were up to me, I would have let these two teams play until someone scored. Like the four-overtime game against the Pandas in the Canada West semifinal, the U SPORTS National Championship semifinal was a game for the ages, and it just sucks that someone had to lose. Lauren Taraschuk made 21 saves plus two more in the shootout to secure the victory while Katherine Purchase stopped 27 shots in the loss.

As a result of this game, Concordia would move to the bronze medal game against the Huskies while Manitoba would advance to the gold medal final against the hometown Western Mustangs.

Bronze Medal

Based on Concordia's 8-1 victory over St. Francis Xavier and their incredible effort against Manitoba, there was already a buzz around the rink that the Huskies might be up against their most difficult test at this tournament yet. Saskatchewan, however, decided to really stretch their legs as they carried the play at times against the Stingers in the opening frame. Vance was still looking strong as she did all tournament, and Saskatchewan led 14-5 in shots through the opening period. The only problem? The teams were tied 0-0 heading into the intermission.

Consecutive penalties late in the first intermission to both Emma Nutter and Leah Bohlken for holding carried over into the second period, and that was the break that Concordia needed. Claudia Dubois buried a shot 39 seconds into the period to put Concordia up 1-0 on the five-on-three, and they were off and running. Concordia carried the play in the middle frame and looked much more confident with the one-goal lead. With the Stingers flying and getting more shots on Vance, it felt as if it would only be a matter of time before they doubled their lead, and with 1:32 remaining in the period, Sophie Gagnon did just that to send the Stingers into the second intermission up 2-0.

Unfortunately for the Huskies, Brigitte Laganire made it 3-0 at the 4:12 mark of the period for the Stingers when she found the back of the net, and Dubois would ice it with an empty-netter at 17:21 with Saskatchewan head coach Steve Kook opting to pull Vance with three minutes to play. Despite the four-goal deficit, I have to credit Saskatchewan for playing hard right through to the final horn. They could have coasted being down four goals with a couple minutes to play, but they made Concordia play the full sixty minutes. The results may not have been what they wanted in a 4-0 loss in the bronze medal, but they did Canada West proud with their efforts this weekend! Katherine Purchase helped the Stingers claim bronze with her 37-save shutout of the Huskies while Jessica Vance made 24 stops in the loss.

The Concordia Stingers are your 2018 U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey bronze medalists!

Gold Medal

The hometown Western Mustangs would be the visitors on the scoreboard thanks to the top-ranked Manitoba Bisons being their opponents in today's gold medal game, but don't let that trick you into any false sense of security for the Bisons. There was a capacity crowd on-hand at Thompson Arena which saw the majority of those fans cheering for the Mustangs. The two rookie netminders - Western's Carmen Lasis and Manitoba's Lauren Taraschuk - would head to the blue paint for their respective teams. The trash-talk and chirping between Radio Western's broadcast team and UMFM's broadcast team was done in fun, but both radio teams wanted to see their side win. Let's go to the video!
As you just heard from the U SPORTS webcast announcers, the Manitoba Bisons are your 2018 U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey gold medalists after downing Western by a 2-0 score! Lauryn Keen and Venla Hovi scored the goals, and Lauren Taraschuk delivered another 20-save shutout in earning the gold medal. Carmen Lasis was solid in a 23-save effort, but her team, like so many before, could not solve Taraschuk. To the post-game scrum!
In terms of sinking in, as Lauren Taraschuk stated, it should be sinking in right about now as it's late. Very late, in fact. The only thing that matters is that the University of Manitoba Bisons Women's Hockey Team is the 2018 U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey gold medal-winning team!

The Final Word

I'll be honest: I've never had a chance to call or follow a team through to ultimate end of a national championship. Just being around the Manitoba Bisons as much as I was this season, I'm damned proud of these women, the coaching and training staff, the game-day crew, the alumni, and the parents. This was one of the most fun seasons of hockey for me as a broadcaster. I am honoured to have called the games over the last few years for this squad as they matured, suffered some setbacks, accomplished some goals, set some records, and came out in this season looking virtually unbeatable.

I don't know if I'll ever call another one of these games. And quite frankly, it doesn't really matter right now. This one will live with me forever. The banner on the wall, the memories made, the trophy engraved, the medals hung around necks? Those are what matters. I cannot say enough good things about these Manitoba women, and it has been an incredible ride.

To all the teams at the tournament that we rarely see - Queen's, StFX, Saint Mary's, Montreal, Concordia, and Western - well done on your accomplishments this season. Of 37 U SPORTS women's ice teams, you're part of the eight best teams in the nation. 29 other teams aren't able to say that, and that's a heckuvan honour. To Concordia and Western, hold your heads high while wearing your respective medals because Manitoba had to go through two of the best to be able to say they're the top team. Nothing was given. You made these women earn their standing.

To the seven teams in Canada West - UBC, Alberta, Calgary, Mount Royal, Lethbridge, Saskatchewan and Regina - the race to the top begins anew in October. I realize that Manitoba has a target on its back now, and we're looking forward to the fun of playing in Canada's best women's hockey conference once more. Don't hold anything back next season because Canada West is now has consecutive gold medals, and we all need to make one another better to make it three-straight gold medals.

It has been a helluva season, folks. Thank you for following along all season long here on The Rundown, and stay safe until next season!

Until next time, enjoy the summer!

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Game Day Saturday

There's an old saying that goes, "If you mess with the bull, you get the horns." Well, the Bisons weren't messing around last night with the Gaels as they laid the horns to them in what most would say was a full sixty-minute game from the top-seeded team. At the end of the mostly one-sided game, Manitoba skated to a 4-0 victory and advanced to the U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey Championship semifinal where they are now guaranteed to play for a medal. Which colour, you ask? Well, that will be determined in their game tonight. A win puts them in the gold medal game while a loss would send them to the bronze medal game.

Before we get to who they play, Manitoba looked every bit like the top-seeded team in this tournament in their opening game. Courtlyn Oswald scored the opening goal on a deflection as she redirected Alana Serhan's shot past Stephanie Pascal midway through the first period, and, if you'll excuse the pun, the Bisons were off and running.

A power-play goal by Alanna Sharman at 1:42, another solid deflection by Alexandra Anderson off a Sharman shot at 18:43, and a second power-play goal from Lauryn Keen on a beautiful snap-pass from Lauren Warkentin at 19:44 put the Bisons out in front 4-0, and it was virtually over with just one period remaining.

Caitlin Fyten spoke to reporters after the game about the importance of establishing the power-play early in this tournament.

"I think it's really important for us," she stated, "especially because coming before here, we didn't get a lot of power-play opportunities, so to get it rolling off this first game here is huge for us going forward."

The Bisons only had seven power-play opportunities through the Canada West playoffs, so to strike twice on three opportunities against the nation's best penalty-killing team shows that the preparation put in by the Bisons is paying off in big ways.

So the only question that remains is who are they preparing for this evening in the semifinal?

The RSEQ champion Concordia Stingers met the AUS finalist St. Francis Xavier X-Women, and this one was just as one-sided as the Manitoba-Queen's game. It was 2-0 for Concordia after one period - a not-insurmountable lead for StFX to overcome - but it was extended to 3-0 before Kate Gotaas scored at 7:14 to make it 3-1. Cue the comeback, right?

Five straight goals in the remaining 31 minutes of the game saw Concordia absolutely thrash the X-Women by an 8-1 score. And like the score, the possession numbers and shot total were heavily slanted towards the Concordia side. The Stingers brought their A-games to Thompson Arena last night, and they earned their spot in the semifinal after bouncing the other AUS team to the consolation side.

Tonight, as it stands, will see the Saskatchewan Huskies battle the hometown Western Mustangs in the 4pm ET semifinal while the Manitoba Bisons will grapple with the Concordia Stingers in the later semifinal at 7pm ET. Both games should be exciting, and we're already looking forward to a potential Canada West gold medal final!

Before we get too far with putting the cart before the horse, though, let's get you set for tonight's battle between the Bisons and Stingers. You can listen on your radio in the Winnipeg region on 101.5 FM as TJ and myself broadcast live from London starting with the UMSU Pregame Show at 5:30pm CT/6:30pm ET. If you're outside the Winnipeg region, you can use the UMFM app on your smartphone or tablet that is available for iDevices or for Android devices! If you're near a computer or laptop, you can catch the game via the website or via the UMFM Second Stream!

In other words, there isn't anywhere on this planet where you can't hear the Bisons and Stingers play tonight as this is literally the biggest game of the season for the Manitoba Bisons. Find yourself an audio-enabled device, and get your fill tonight as the Bisons look for a gold medal berth at the 2018 U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey Championship!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!